Only in it for the money?

17th of May 2011
Only in it for the money?

Even though contract cleaning employees in Germany received a pay rise at the beginning of this year, their trade union is now demanding another wage increase. Thomas Schulte-Marxloh reports.

Since January this year the 900,000 employees in the contract cleaning business have been receiving higher wages – this was the beginning of my last article. With a slight variation, I can use it again. Although the 900,000 employees in the contract cleaning business have been receiving higher wages since January this year, the union IG BAU, representing workers in the sector, is demanding another rise in hourly wages: 0.60 euro (west) and 0.70 euro (east) for workers in the lowest wage group. This would also be the minimum wage for interior cleaners.

According to the union, skilled employees (glass and façade cleaning) should enjoy a rise of 0.80 euro (west) and 0.90 euro (east). The wage agreement should be valid for 12 months. In general, the union aims at a harmonisation of wages in both parts of Germany. "One has to know when employees in the East will finally receive the same for their work as their colleagues in the West," said Frank Wynands of IG BAU.

Positive economic development also provides for a growth of the contract cleaning industry, believes the union. "The contract cleaning business benefits from the boom. The business volume and the number of employees are continuously climbing to new record levels," Wynands explained. "The industry does not have any problems. The employees should receive their share of the positive development from the employers now." Moreover, says the union, in particular the low-income earners need compensation for inflation. The rate of price increases this year is expected to be two per cent.         

The response of the BIV (association for the contract cleaning industry) came immediately. The union's demand, it said, is absolutely unrealistic and it rejected the union’s demand for a wage increase of 10 per cent. "If someone asks for a wage increase of 10 per cent in the East", said Johannes Bungart, BIV representative, "this only proves he does not know the reality of most companies in the contract cleaning business." The union demands wage increases of about seven per cent in the West and 10 per cent in the East.

Incomprehensible demands

"The IG Bau knows about the average company’s return of 2.8  per cent in the contract cleaning industry too. Therefore, demands like that are even more incomprehensible", said Bungart. He also underlined the employers’ intention to achieve a labour agreement at the latest in the second half of 2011. "Minimum wages for our industry are only valid until December 31 2011.

Considering the ‘freedom of movement for workers’ for the EU applicant countries, starting May 1 2011, all parties will have to ensure that minimum wages exist in the contract cleaning industry after January 1 2012." Otherwise, the BIV explains, dumping of unpredictable dimensions might be the result.

Presently, the impacts of the ‘freedom of movement for workers’ are subject to discussion in the contract cleaning industry. Both, the BIV and the union IG BAU support the idea of minimum wages.


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